MSU’s Calhoun knows starting job is his to lose

EAST LANSING — He has a new job, a new perspective and a new coach, and Michigan State sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun is loving all of it.

“I would say it is my job to lose,” Calhoun said of the defensive end spot vacated by NFL early entry Will Gholston. “And there are a lot of people out there working hard to take it from me, I’ll tell you that. There are multiple people on this team that are trying to take that job from me. And I love it. I love the competition.

In terms of enthusiasm and personality, Calhoun might be unmatched in the MSU locker room. But it sounds like he might have found a kindred spirit in Ron Burton, MSU’s first-year defensive line coach.

“He’s crazy, man, but we love him,” Calhoun said of Burton, who came from Air Force and replaces Ted Gill. “He’s very high-tempo. He’s fast. He wants everybody to be working. … He’s preparing us for the fastest teams in America, I’ll tell you that. If we were playing Oregon today, I would be prepared, I tell you, because he keeps us moving.”

Calhoun is holding the No. 1 position early in spring ball, opposite returning starter Marcus Rush at the other end position. Senior Denzel Drone and promising freshman Jamal Lyles are behind him on the depth chart, and sophomore Joel Heath is another strong contender for snaps, No. 2 behind Rush.

Though he had just six tackles last season — 2 1/2 for losses with one sack — Calhoun showed quickness and the potential to be an effective pass rusher.

“Shilique’s a very good player. He’s very active. He’s good with his hands,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “Expects to be great.”

Gholston led the team with 13 1/2 tackles for losses and 4 1/2 sacks, doing it mostly with power at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds. The 6-4 Calhoun said he’s up to 255 after playing around 240 last season. His ability to be solid at the point of attack will be key.

“He was a giant, the biggest man I’ve ever seen alive,” Calhoun said of Gholston. “So, I mean, he’s more of a muscular type of player. I’m more of a … get-off-the-ball, fast-tempo type of player.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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